Dicer-Mediated Upregulation of BCRP Confers Tamoxifen Resistance in Human Breast Cancer Cells

Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA.
Clinical Cancer Research (Impact Factor: 8.72). 08/2011; 17(20):6510-21. DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-1403
Source: PubMed


Tamoxifen (Tam) is the most prescribed hormonal agent for treatment of estrogen receptor α (ERα)-positive breast cancer patients. Using microarray analysis, we observed that metastatic breast tumors resistant to Tam therapy had elevated levels of Dicer.
We overexpressed Dicer in ERα-positive MCF-7 human breast cancer cells and observed a concomitant increase in expression of the breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP). We thus hypothesized that Tam resistance associated with Dicer overexpression in ERα-positive breast cancer cells may involve BCRP. We analyzed BCRP function in Dicer-overexpressing cells using growth in soft agar and mammosphere formation and evaluated intracellular Tam efflux.
In the presence of Tam, Dicer-overexpressing cells formed resistant colonies in soft agar, and treatment with BCRP inhibitors restored Tam sensitivity. Tumor xenograft studies confirmed that Dicer-overexpressing cells were resistant to Tam in vivo. Tumors and distant metastases could be initiated with as few as five mammosphere cells from both vector and Dicer-overexpressing cells, indicating that the mammosphere assay selected for cells with enhanced tumor-initiating and metastatic capacity. Dicer-overexpressing cells with elevated levels of BCRP effluxed Tam more efficiently than control cells, and BCRP inhibitors were able to inhibit efflux.
Dicer-overexpressing breast cancer cells enriched for cells with enhanced BCRP function. We hypothesize that it is this population which may be involved in the emergence of Tam-resistant growth. BCRP may be a novel clinical target to restore Tam sensitivity.

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